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How do I Care for Wooden Spoons and Cutting Boards?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 16, 2024
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Most people don't think about wooden spoons and cutting boards as items that need to be "cared for." Cooks use them, clean them, and put them away. To make them not only last as long as possible but also remain sanitary, you need to take a few extra steps to keep them maintained. This involves oiling them occasionally, not leaving them to soak in water, and storing them in a dry place.

As soon as you unpack your wooden kitchen equipment for the first time, you should oil them to prevent them from cracking. Mineral oil is best for this. Never use olive or vegetable oils because they'll turn rancid as they age, making your wood products unsanitary.

Warm the oil first and then rub into the wood using a cloth. After a couple of hours, wipe off any excess that wasn't absorbed. You may want to apply several coats. You'll need to re-oil the items periodically, depending on their use, and if they're used often, you'll want to oil them every couple of months or so. You'll know it's time to re-oil because the color of the wood gets lighter.

When cleaning wooden spoons and cutting boards, wash them as you would all your other kitchen implements, in some mild dishwashing liquid and water. Don't leave them to soak, however, as this can lead to water damage. It's also not a good idea to wash these items in the dishwasher, as they can incur heat damage. To prevent bacteria from harboring itself into your boards and spoons, dry them as soon as they are washed.

To prevent cross-contamination, it's best if you have at least two different cutting boards — one for cutting raw meat and another for fruits, vegetables and other foods. Once meat is cut, wash the board immediately in warm soapy water. The longer a dirty cutting board sits, the more time bacteria has to embed itself into the wood.

If your wooden board has cracks and scratches, you may want to consider replacing it because germs and bacteria hide in those crevices. If your frugal side won't let you part with your board, don't use it for raw meat and make sure you take extra care to scrub those crevices clean. To remove bacteria from the surface of wooden items, rub a lemon half over them after cleaning.

Wooden kitchen implements should be stored in a dry place. Extreme cold or heat, not to mention humidity, will cause them to crack and warp.

It may sound like a lot of work to care for wooden kitchen items, but it's really not. Following just a few simple tips will keep your family healthy and your wooden implements around a little longer.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon250088 — On Feb 24, 2012

Are wooden rolling pins, mallets, barbecue sticks or a wooden handled sauce pan harmful in the kitchen as per the food hygiene part?

By anon228429 — On Nov 08, 2011

The USDA kitchens say that the only way to sterilize a wood cutting board is with ammonia.

By anon140024 — On Jan 06, 2011

Just my two cents: I have a wooden (oak) cutting board that I have used almost daily for the past 30 years. All I have ever done to maintain it is, wipe with warm damp cloth after use. Once every couple of weeks, I pour olive oil onto a paper towel, and give it a light wipe.

Maybe once a year I will rub it down good with table salt and a scotch bright pad to smooth it, then light olive oil.

It looks better now than it did years ago, and has never had any odor from the oil.

Personally, I'd rather not use mineral oil of any kind on it. After all, mineral oil is a petroleum based product, regardless of whether it's marketed as "food safe" or otherwise.

By anon61158 — On Jan 18, 2010

Obviously anon50168 works for clorox. I get that in a disaster I might want to sacrifice some health issues for some clean water. But that is some faulty logic to deduce I should be cleaning my cutting boards with bleach.

By anon50168 — On Oct 26, 2009

Regarding using bleach: this should be no problem and should not result in ingesting any harsh cleaner. Clorox breaks down in water to simple harmless elements. As an example, a few drops of Clorox is recommended to be used for water purification by the gallon in the event of a disaster. Be sure to rinse the board after sanitizing and let dry before reuse and there should be no issue at all.

By anon47825 — On Oct 07, 2009

For 1 and 2, If your wooden cutting board or your spoons are getting a little furry or rough go and get some fine grain sand paper and take it to them in even strokes then re-oil them.

By anon34276 — On Jun 19, 2009

A word of warning about putting a wet cloth under the board to keep it from moving around. I did that and it warped my board. In order to un-warp it, I had to do it again, only on the other side. Now, from time to time it gets warped again. *Don't put a wet cloth under your board.* I will be replacing mine soon.

By anon25674 — On Feb 02, 2009

I prefer to use a reversible board that does not contain any feet. The reason is that it gives you more work surfaces to use and avoid excessive wear and tear on one side. I also prefer to use boards that are very large and at least 1 3/4 inch thick such as the ones you often see professional chefs using on food network and other cooking shows. We have a portion of our counter devoted specifically to our chopping block. We eat a lot healthier because of this, since the board is always there and ready to go.

It's mostly a factor of caring for your board once you buy it that makes the difference!

If you have a board that moves around on the counter, try placing a wet towel beneath the board. This will help reduce the chances of it moving about and promote even exposure to moisture.

Never waterlog a board by running water over it or submerging it. It's better to just wipe it with straight vinegar or a 10% bleach solution or even hydrogen peroxide. Then, allow it to dry on end to allow for even airflow.

We normally take a flat edge knife and use it to scrape food particles and excess moisture off the board before sanitizing it. 75% of the moisture will be eliminated by this act alone.

Then the other key thing to consider purchasing when you buy a board is beeswax butcher block conditioner (a blend of both food grade mineral oil and beeswax)and rub a thin coat on once a month.

Wooden boards have been found to have antibacterial properties there have been lots of scientific studies conducted that make wooden boards the preferred choice over plastic boards.

Hope this helps! Happy board hunting!

By anon25673 — On Feb 02, 2009

If you are worried about consuming bleach, try wiping the board with undiluted vinegar instead, studies have shown that undiluted vinegar wiped onto cutting boards sanitizes wood extremely well and also is know to eliminate garlic, onion, fish, or other smells from your cutting board. Try not to saturate your board with vinegar or water as boards submerged in water have a tendency to warp and crack. Dry the boards on end to allow plenty of airflow on all sides, then treat with a product that contains both Natural Beeswax and Food Grade Mineral Oil like Wooden Wonders Beeswax Butcher Block Conditioners. The combination product is much more effective than Mineral oil alone. There are a few products out there similar to Wooden Wonders but it is the best value out there since most other brands are a lot (normally at least double in price).

By anon25378 — On Jan 28, 2009

You shouldn't really care so much about the wood, so much as consuming small quantities of Clorox, which will seep into the wood then seep back into your food.

Just because something doesn't make you strongly sick doesn't mean that its not bad for you. Many cleaners contain DNA-damaging compounds that will increase your risk of cancer in a few decades, and

you would never know that clorox on the cutting board contributed.

By anon22154 — On Nov 29, 2008

I wash my wooden board after each use, then wipe with Clorox wipe. Is this harmful to wood?

By anon18403 — On Sep 22, 2008

I have some wooden spoons which my children made at school many years ago and I love them but they are starting to get furry how do I get rid of the fur and still be able to use them. I hope this finds you well and have a wonderful day. From Jan Barry

By anon5070 — On Nov 12, 2007

What should you do if your wooden cutting board is a little rough??

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